I recently participated in my first 10K. My score: last place… for everything.  I was quite literally the last person to cross the finish line. It didn’t matter. My goal was to finish, not win.

I learned a few things along the way:

1. Finishing is an acceptable goal.
2. Last place requires as much determination and perseverance as first place, maybe more, because not many people are watching to cheer you on, and all the bands are packing up to leave.
3. You appreciate the ones that did stick it out to cheer you on. Those high fives are even more encouraging because they stayed.
4. A good attitude is required. Because you may find it necessary to encourage yourself when there is no one else to do it.
5. A steady pace will help you reach the  end. Just. Keep. Moving.
6. You get to avoid the photographer. Who wants a picture anyway?🙂
7. You can only do better on your next 10K. You can’t place lower than last. Hooray for improvement. 🙂

There is a saying: Not fast, but not last. To that I say this: If you give it your best and try something new, there is no shame in being last. I met my personal goal. I finished the race. That is my reward.

Wednesday evening, during service, we sang a song called, “I Love to Tell the Story.” (You can find the lyrics and tune here: http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/l/ilttts.htm)

In the song there is a stanza that reads, “I love to tell the story for some have never heard…” and when we sang that on Wednesday night, it occurred to me that one of those individuals was singing this with us.

This school year, I have an exchange student from China living in my home. I knew before she arrived (thanks to the paperwork) that she never attends religious services and does not claim any form of religion in her home country. Knowing a little about the history of religion and that country, I was also fairly certain that she has never been exposed to Christianity or the Bible, and verified with her when she arrived that this was true.

To clarify for those who are reading this, it is not my intent to proselytize or to convert her or to convince her to change. She’s here to experience the culture, and part of that culture (at least in my home) is church attendance. And, yes, before she arrived and before she was ever placed in my home by the exchange student program, she agreed to attend. My role in this experience is to answer questions she has and provide explanations surrounding my beliefs and customs, where appropriate. Yes, as a Christian, I would love to see her come to believe, but if she does, it will be (has to be) by her own choice, not coerced or forced or ‘strongly persuaded’ by me, or anyone affiliated with my church, or any Christian, for that matter. (And, honestly, isn’t that true for any conversion that happens? The job of a Christian is to make the gospel attractive and desirable, not to shove it down people’s throats.)

It poses an interesting question, though. As American Christians, we have a tendency to assume that most people we come in contact with have some level of familiarity with the Bible and what Christianity is about. We know how to talk to people who have a rudimentary understanding of Christianity and the Bible, because they know some of the “lingo”. With someone who has NEVER been exposed to it, where do you even start?

As I think through this, I would like to (if I can get my act together to do it), post a series of my thoughts on explaining Christianity. This is primarily for my own benefit, because I need to think through it and know how to approach it should questions arise.   We tell people the gospel isn’t complicated, so, in theory, this should be simple, right?

Think about it, and provide some feedback, please. Have you ever had the opportunity to explain the gospel / Christianity / church customs, traditions, doctrine, etc. to someone who has NEVER been exposed to any of it? Not just to your specific tradition / denomination / church, but to Christianity in general?

Note: For those of you who don’t like religious or preachy posts, you may want to skip this one.  Or you may not.  It’s up to you.

I want to address something that makes me incredibly sad and something I don’t know how to fix.  And it is this – Christians who say and do things to others that puts something in the way of those souls making it to heaven, or at the very least, make it harder for them to come to God or want to visit or attend church.

This makes me sad because it isn’t what we’re here to do.  As Christians, the Bible tells us that our purpose is to share the love of God and the gospel with others, not to put things in the way of the very ones we claim we want to help.

The Bible also tells us that people will know that we are Jesus’ disciples by the love we have toward each other and toward people in general.  If we aren’t showing love to those who claim to be Christians, MUCH LESS to those who aren’t, how will people know that we are Jesus’ disciples? How will they know that we’re Christians?

I won’t say that I know the whole story in all that I’ve heard, but is it fair to discount someone’s story when I wasn’t there?  Should I tell someone that they couldn’t possibly have experienced what they experienced simply because I haven’t experienced what they have from the people in question?  The only way to get the other side of the story is to ask, and even then, how do I know for sure?  All I know is the effect that I see on the ones who have shared what they have experienced.  And it hurts.

Whatever these ones have experienced has created bitter feelings, hurt, pain, and in some cases left them questioning what they were previously taught.  The actions of some have opened the door wide to doubts and placed a rock of unbelief in their way.

We need to give thought to our words and actions.  More importantly, we need to have the love of God in us and pouring out through us.  There are souls at stake.

And it breaks my heart to think of people I care about missing out on the blessings of salvation and the hope of heaven because of the unkind words and actions of someone who claimed the name of Christ.

Because this is directed as much to myself as anyone else… if I have ever hurt anyone in this way, please forgive me.

Sermon Reflections

Summary of what I retained from the sermons on Sunday. Links are included if you’d like to listen:

• A body can’t function with a head. The head of the church is Christ.
• All members of a body must have a vital connection to the head to function properly.
• Pastors, teachers and other leaders within the body are not the head. They are members just like everyone else. Their purpose is to edify, not to replace the head.
• Pride is the source of division in the church and is often at the root of many other problems.
• Gossip is a tool of pride.
• When you hear gossip, it obligates you to hear the other side of the story.
• Don’t encourage a gossip. Stop it by speaking well of the object of the gossip if you can.
• Consider the motivation behind your words and actions.
• We are here to edify.

Thanks to a link from my sis-in-law, I am writing a blog post from a list of 365 daily prompts whenever the prompt looks interesting and I have time. (No sense in pressuring myself to do a daily post all year since this blog is just for fun.)🙂

Prompt for Today (1/3): What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?

This would assume that I HAVE a bucket list.  I don’t.  So, use your imagination.  Or maybe I should use my imagination? :-)  Or how about I write that bucket list right now, hmm?

Spur of the moment bucket list written JUST so I can meet this writing prompt:

1)   Travel to Scotland and see Shieldhill (and lots of other things) – scheduled to happen in Sept. 2014

2)   Be the wife of a good man – contingent on the cooperation of a good man (not perfect, just good… now accepting applicants for this position… lol)

3)   Be the mother of a child or children – either by birth or adoption, and hopefully in cooperation with a good man (if not, then definitely by adoption)

4)   Live in a way that fulfills God’s purpose for my life (aka – make the world better for others one day or act of kindness at a time)

5)   Travel to Alaska (but not during winter)

6)   Travel to New York and see the sites I saw as a child but don’t remember because I was too young

7)   Start and finish at least one quilting project

8)   Start and finish at least one knitting project

9)   Be completely caught up on my crochet projects (ha!)

10) Take a cooking class

11) Write a book (topic is as yet undetermined)

So, there you have it… the 11th item on my list is to write a book on an undetermined topic. 🙂

Take a step of faith…

The kids at church used to (and sometimes still do) sing a song that says (in the chorus), “Take a step of faith, take a step of faith, when you can’t see your hand in front of your face just take a step of faith. With no star to guide your way, God’s still beside you saying, “Take a step of faith, just take a step of faith.”

Life takes us through various points where we have to just step out on faith and let go of all we were trying to hold on to and let God work his plan without our help.  For the risk averse, that feels pretty scary, pretty risky, pretty overwhelming.  But, sometimes you have to do what feels hard and scary and overwhelming to allow God to accomplish what he wants to accomplish in you.

The truth is, there is some risk to it, but ultimately God is trustworthy.  He keeps his word.  

Tonight, as I face one of those situations where God is asking me to let go and step out in faith and trust him, my mind keeps going to the scriptures that talk about Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.  God made Abraham a promise in Isaac, but then he asked him to do this thing that seemed so contrary to that promise.  Abraham set about to do what God asked, knowing that somehow, God would still keep his word.  Isaac didn’t really understand what was going on, but he trusted his father.  In the end, it all worked out.  God kept his word.  Isaac lived.  Abraham’s actions showed his faithfulness in following God.

There is risk to what God has asked me to do.  It’s not easy surrendering.  But, this step of faith needs to happen.  And I go into this knowing that God is always true to his word.  He will provide.  He will prove true.  I just need to be obedient and watch him work out what he has purposed.


Life takes some interesting turns. I have been thinking about the lesson that was taught on Sunday morning. The one thing that stood out to me was this: God told the Apostle Paul something that would happen, but the circumstances were against it happening. Hope was gone, but God caused them to survive the storm against all odds. God’s word and promises will prove to be true, but how he brings them about isn’t always the way we might think.  It was encouraging to think on that.